Start with empathy

I’m fairly sure Justin Keller had an interesting few days this week, for one reason—he didn’t start with empathy. Don’t be like that Justin Keller. Be more like this other Justin Keller and start with empathy as a first principle, and use what empathy helps you see to guide and inform your journey.

Starting with empathy is hard, because you have to put your own head to the side temporarily in order to see the world through someone else’s worldview. This is hard because we always see ourselves as being “right” in some objective sense, and from this point of view, adopting a worldview that sits in opposition to or conflict with our own will, by definition, feel counter intuitive.

But this is life. There are no right answers here, just answers.

You cannot genuinely connect with another human in a positive way unless you understand the way they see the world. That is a prerequisite. For anyone whose responsibility involves connecting with people on a daily basis (and there aren’t many people in the world to whom that doesn’t apply) then, it is therefore our duty to spend a great deal of our time doing two things:

  1. First, we must build up our empathy muscles and get used to how they work.
  2. Second, we must retrain ourselves to have these muscles kick in by default as our first reaction to the events in the world around us.

Empathy is hard, but you should do the hard work to start there anyway. You might be surprised by what you learn.

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